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WHAT IS CARRIACOU PARANG FESTIVAL?
The Carriacou Parang Festival which began many years ago in 1977, is held each year in the month of December on the weekend preceding December 25; Christmas Day. The idea of organising this festival was brought forward by Mr. Bentley Thomas, three years after the formation of the organisation that is known today as the Mt. Royal Progressive Youth movement (M. R. P. Y. M).

Though Mr. Thomas met with opposition from the other members who at the time, did not think that the festival would have gained any attention, he persisted and persuaded his fellow members to support the staging of the festival for the first time in 1977.

The main objective of organising the festival was to revive and keep alive the “house to house” serenading of string bands and hosanna carol singing at nights around Christmas time. At that time this indigenous aspect of our culture was slowing dying, hence the reason for the Parang string bands competition and later on, the hosanna bands competition.

For the first ten years, the festival was held for one day, the Sunday before Christmas Day. In 1987 a new dimension was added to the festival, and it was extended to two days, Saturday and Sunday. Many of the international entertainers were brought to perform here for the people of Carriacou and Petit Martinique. As a result the Saturday night was dubbed as “foreign Entertainers night”. Click to see the list of foreign entertainers that were brought to Carriacou.

In keeping with its objective to revive and maintain the dying traditional culture here in Carriacou, in 1989, the hosanna bands competition was introduced for both junior and senior categories. This competition ran for ten years and in 2001 the groups no longer competed, instead they performed Christmas Carols every Parang Friday night, much to the delight of many of the older folks in our community.

Carriacou Parang Festival is unique, when compared with the Parang Festival in the neighbouring country of Trinidad and Tobago, where the parang songs there are sang in Spanish and electrified instruments are used to supply music.

Carriacou Parang is filled with fun, humour, excitement and musical entertainment. The lyrical compositions of the various bands can be considered to be rather controversial at times; since they reflect on political events in the country; in particular the wrongdoings by politicians, and also the social and moral wrongs that occur in people’s lives throughout the year. These genre of these compositions are locally known as meléé and comess.

The Sunday night activity is held in the form of a competition among organised parang groups from villages throughout Carriacou & Petit Martinique and even Grenada, all competing for cash prizes along with a challenge trophy.

The groups are comprised of eight (8) members and they are all dressed in colourful outfits to reflect the festive season. All of the instruments used for this occasion are percussion instruments, these include: base drum, iron/steel, guitar, quarto, violin, marack (shack-shack), mandolin, saxophone, tambourine and any other percussion instrument that can make a melodious sound.

The groups appear twice on stage; first to perform a “test piece”, this is a Christmas Carol that is selected by the Parang Festival Committee. In their second appearance the groups perform a composition of their choice. Groups are judged on both the rounds of appearances and can score a maximum of 100 points for each round.

In 2009 a change was made to the Saturday night’s activity, instead of the “foreign artists” show a “Parang Money Bingo” with prize money totalling EC $50 000.00 took its place. This bingo was jointly organised by the Carriacou Parang Festival Committeee and the Grenada National Lottery Authority. The main reason for the change in activity on Parang Saturday Night is intended to give the many ardent supporters of the festival an oppertunity to win some money. Thus at the same time, allowing the thousands of dollars that would have been paid to the foreign entertainers to remain and circulate within the local ecconomy.

Over the years many organisations, businesses and individuals have contributed financially and otherwise towards the success of the annual Carriacou Parang Festival, among those are; The Government of Grenada, The Governor General of Grenada, Grenada Board of Tourism, Grenada Cultural Foundation, Anthony “Jericho” Greenedge, Grenada Benevolent Society (UK), Grenada Brewery Ltd, Grenadian General Insurance Co. Ltd., Agency for Rural Transformation (ART), Kayak Social Club (USA), UNESCO, Air-Jamaica, Ade’s Dream Ltd and the major sponsor of the Parang String Bands Competition 2007-2009; Grenada Co-operative Bank known as “Coop Bank”.

Ever since its inception in 1977, the Carriacou Parang Festival has been held every year for the past thirty three years. Despite of the many challenges that the committee encountered along the way, the festival has since emerged as one of the major annual and most looked forward to event on the calendar of activities in the tri-islands state of Grenada, Carriacou & Petit Martinique.

The Carriacou Parang Festival serves as a tourist attraction to the island, as a result of which the; taxi and bus drivers, guest houses, shops and restaurants all benefit financially from the staging of the event. All of the funds that are accumulated by the committee are channelled through the Mt. Royal Progressive Youth Movement (MRPYM) back into the community to bring much needed relief to the less-fortunate people on the island and also used to assist in the development of sports, culture, education and community development here on the island of Carriacou & Petit Martinique.

As we prepare to celebrate the 2014 festival - Friday 19th to Sunday 21st December - we invite everyone to visit the island of Carriacou to witness this aspect of our culture that is truly unique to Carriacou & Petit Martinique.
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Special thanks to the contributors to the 2013 festival.....
Mrs. Phyllis Nurse
 
 
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